Haney Creek list


Green Heron!

Not an uncommon bird, but hard to spot. This is my first sighting since we moved to Florida.


I went for a walk at Haney Creek yesterday late morning. I kept track of the birds I saw and heard and posted an eBird checklist for the first time in a while.


The first to greet me: a couple of Gray Catbirds.




Next, a non-bird.


A slow-moving Gopher Tortoise was grazing at the edge of the path.


On the fence at the dog run, an Eastern Phoebe.


“Phoebe!” it said, helpfully.


I expected to see more wading birds in the wetlands but only came up with this immature Little Blue Heron.


That is a school just beyond the wetlands.


The Little Blue is starting to get its adult colors.


Why do they start off white and turn slaty blue-gray? I don’t know.


On the hunt.


Mirror, mirror.


Last time I was at the dog park at Haney Creek (two days before), there were a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a pair of Great Egrets having a turf battle. I did not have my camera. I was hoping to see them this day but no luck.


Next I walked a trail through sand pine scrub.


There were little birds calling but I only got a good look at a few, including this Yellow-rumped Warbler.


There have been a ton of butterbutts around this winter. I’m almost getting sick of them.


More info on Florida sand pine scrub, an endangered subtropical forest ecoregion.


Another gopher tortoise out for a stroll.


Finally an animal that can’t outrun me, or fly away.


Lots of Northern Cardinals around.


I think it’s nesting season for them.


Chestnut cap helps identify this (out of focus) Palm Warbler.


Who doesn’t love a Green Heron??

Bird Pavarotti


Fat red bird on my morning dog walk.

The male Northern Cardinal has a vocal range greater than all the notes on a piano and he can run through the whole range in a tenth of a second. Learned that in my Audubon songbird class yesterday.



One more Troupial


They feed birds a little differently in Curacao. This Venezualan Troupial is eating sugar crystals and drinking sugar water at the Hemingway Beach Bar.

We visited Curacao a month ago but I had these last few photos on my desktop and meant to post them, so here we go.


A fantastic bird.


And nearby, a fantastic beast. This iguana watched us eat lunch.

More on the Venezuelan Troupial at Neotropical Birds Online.

The three troupial species have in the past all been lumped under one species. However, the Venezuelan Troupial is the largest and in some ways the visually most unusual of all orioles. It is in shape a big and very bulky oriole with a large and long bill. It has thick and strong legs as well as a well developed long and broad tail. In some ways it looks like an Oriole trying to be a Cacique! The body is largely bright orange, with a black back, black tail and a black hood. The wings have a very big white wing stripe that is noticeable on the perched bird. The head has an odd adornment for an oriole, a patch of bare blue skin behind the eye, also unusual is that the eye is yellow.

Catbirds are songbirds


Gray Catbird perches on the birdbath behind Audubon of Martin County yesterday at the Possum Long Nature Preserve in Stuart, FL.

I am still learning year-round vs. winter residents. Looks like catbirds are snowbirds in Florida.


Resident along the Atlantic Coast; otherwise migratory. Catbirds from across North America spend winters along the Gulf Coast from Florida through Texas and all the way down Central America and the Caribbean.

They would arrive at our old house in coastal New Hampshire in early May, when tree flowers were blooming and insects were out. Contrary to popular opinion they were not shy. But I did serve them a fine feast at the feeders.

Scroll down for catbird photos from days of yore: GRAY CATBIRD – Amy’s Birds.


Catbirds are mimids, members of the Mimidae family which includes mockingbirds and thrashers, notable for their vocalizations and ability to mimic other birds and outdoor sounds.

Yesterday I attended an Audubon class on Songbirds and Woodpeckers. Catbirds are songbirds or, more scientifically, Passeriformes or perching birds. Of the 10,000 species of birds in the world, about half of them are “songbirds” possessing the vocal cords and brains that allow them to sing, not just vocalize or call.


From Cornell Lab Bird Academy: How and Why Birds Sing.

I went outside to get the Sunday paper during this morning’s dawn chorus and heard and saw two noisy catbirds in the bushes across the street.

If I could understand the language of the birds, I might hear them saying: “Write about us, write about us! We are leaving soon to fly north for the summer. See you next fall.”

Bird Island from a boat


Roseate Spoonbill on Bird Island yesterday.


Must look good for breeding season.


Great Blue Heron.


Big feet on that bird.


We borrowed a boat from our boat club in Manatee Pocket yesterday and took a ride up the Indian River Lagoon to the rookery just off Sewall’s Point known as Bird Island.


It is Wood Stork nesting season. They appear to still be building nests. I have not seen chicks yet.


The Snowy Egrets are in breeding plumage and acting flirty.


Showing off.


I have never seen them like this.


Always surprising the variety of breeds sharing space on this island.


My sister and brother-in-law were in town and we all watched birds from the boat.


Incoming Wood Stork.


A rather skull-like head.


Wood Stork with wings up.


Roseate Spoonbill again.


Lots of Brown Pelicans on the island now too.

Cedar waxwings are Florida snowbirds


Cedar Waxwings visited the live oak tree across the street from our house in Sewall’s Point, Florida yesterday in the early afternoon.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cedar Waxwing:

A treat to find in your binocular viewfield, the Cedar Waxwing is a silky, shiny collection of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow, accented with a subdued crest, rakish black mask, and brilliant-red wax droplets on the wing feathers.


We spotted several large flocks flying over, plus this flock that had settled in for some perching and trilly whistling. Maybe 50 or 60 birds in this tree?


I’ve only seen Cedar Waxwings in winter, when we lived in New Hampshire. They liked the berries from the winterberry holly growing wild around us.



Cedar Waxwings are social birds that form large flocks and often nest in loose clusters of a dozen or so nests. When feeding on fruits, Cedar Waxwings pluck them one by one and swallow the entire thing at once. They typically feed while perched on a twig, but they’re also good at grabbing berries while hovering briefly just below a bunch. When eating insects, waxwings either fly out from an exposed perch, or make long, zig-zagging flights over water.


Notice that the bird on the left has an orange-tipped rather than yellow-tipped tail. What’s that all about? I don’t know.

During courtship, males and females hop towards each other, alternating back and forth and sometimes touching their bills together. Males often pass a small item like a fruit, insect, or flower petal, to the female. After taking the fruit, the female usually hops away and then returns giving back the item to the male. They repeat this a few times until, typically, the female eats the gift.

I saw a few of them do this. Charming!

Not the plastic kind or the zoo kind


As promised, more flamingos from the salt ponds at Sint Willibrordus.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, the Caribbean flamingo, known locally as Chogogo…

Curaçao also has a small but important colony of 200 to 300 individuals that arrived from Bonaire in the mid 1980s during a particularly rainy year. The Jan Kok salt ponds have received protection since 1999 due to their importance for the population. Curaçao flamingos also regularly fly out to Venezuela where food is more plentiful.

Curacao, a few more birds


Brown-throated Parakeet, on a cactus in the small town of Lagun, Curacao.


Saffron finches on a wire in Lagun.


Saffron finch.


Tropical Mockingbird. We are seeing and hearing these birds all over the island!


One of the many pretty beaches in Curacao.


And don’t forget another ubiquitous bird of the Caribbean, the hard working little hen!

First Curacao birds


Crested Caracara on a cactus.

A few birds from our first day in Curacao, with more later.


Bananaquit on a bookshelf in the outdoor cooking and dining area at our lodgings. The Dutch name for them translates as “sugar thief” – they will take the sugar right out of your sugar bowl.


Flamingos at the salt pond in Sint Willebrordus. I have more photos of these beautifully colored birds to share tomorrow.


A boldly colored Troupial after sunrise. They are New World orioles in the blackbird family.

Park birds, pond

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We went to Indian Riverside Park yesterday in the late afternoon. But why did I take so many pictures of birds! Oh well, because I love them. Here they are…


Woot! it’s a Coot!


I have never photographed and IDed an American Coot, until now!


Duck, Mottled.


Little Blue Heron, a grownup in its inky dark plumage.


Snowy Egret.


Standing still.


That ol’ coot.

You’ll find coots eating aquatic plants on almost any body of water. When swimming they look like small ducks (and often dive), but on land they look more chickenlike, walking rather than waddling.


The pond in the park was clearly the avian place to be.


White Ibises, a coot and a Little Blue Heron.


Also a few Cattle Egrets.


A brief kerfuffle among the Mottled Ducks.


Then all was well again.

Compared to other species of ducks, pair formation occurs early, with nearly 80% of all individuals paired by November. Breeding starts in January, continuing through to July and usually peaking in March and April.


The male has a yellow bill, the female orange.


Coots are tough, adaptable waterbirds. Although they are related to the secretive rails, they swim in the open like ducks and walk about on shore, making themselves at home on golf courses and city park ponds.


Worth a read from Audubon.org The Sketch… The American Coot: A Tough-Love Parent.


Bills can be swords, reminds the Cattle Egret.


Cattle Egrets have broad, adaptable diets: primarily insects, plus other invertebrates, fish, frogs, mammals, and birds. They feed voraciously alone or in loose flocks of up to hundreds. Foraging mostly on insects disturbed by grazing cattle or other livestock, they also glean prey from wetlands or the edges of fields that have been disturbed by fire, tractors, or mowing machinery. Grasshoppers and crickets are the biggest item on their menu, which also includes horse flies, owlet moths and their larvae, cicadas, wolf spiders, ticks, earthworms, crayfish, millipedes, centipedes, fish, frogs, mice, songbirds, eggs, and nestlings.


Another place birds find food in the park is from people. I was across the pond and couldn’t see what she was feeding them. The dogs were doing an amazing job of ignoring the birds… for treats?


Another member of the Rallidae family (Rails, Galllinules and Coots): the Common Gallinule.


The Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile. Vocal and boldly marked with a brilliant red shield over the bill, the species can be quite conspicuous. It sometimes uses its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to moorhen species in the Old World.


Whoa, those toes!


A couple of nonnatives, Egyptian Geese, were enjoying the feeding from the ladies with the dogs.


Ibis, ibis, goose.


There are some feral populations of Egyptian geese in the area. They are probably more closely related to shelducks than geese. They were sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

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Facsimile Painting of Geese, Tomb of Nefermaat and Itat, ca. 2575-2551 from The Met.